so the apple cake we made a few days ago is, supposedly, an old family recipe: we just asked partner’s mother, who said “it’s my mother’s recipe, and before her, my grandmother’s – it’s an old eastern european jewish recipe”.

… it’s almost identical to this recipe – partner’s version has more orange juice, and drops the vanilla, and the whole thing has been scaled up a little.

i’m just charmed by the way everyone thinks it’s a family recipe, and in the end, everyone got it from a magazine or a neighbor (who in turn got it from a magazine).

And the recipe, it didn’t come from her mother or her mother’s mother (“My mother? Bake a cake? Ha!” my mother said.) but a clipping that a neighbor gave her from some now-defunct magazine.

My grandmother makes a very similar cake in a bundt pan. I liked to make up stories that it was from her mother’s mother and filled with mystery and mystique and then she told me she got it out of a Home and Garden magazine only 20 or so years ago.

We have something in common! This exact recipe was considered a family heirloom. I remember adding it to my family tree history for a school assignment. My father made up stories about it – something about escaping Poland with it. And then one day my mother came clean, it was just a recipe my mom got at the tennis club from one of her friends. The horror!

I kept thinking, there’s no way this could be the same recipe as MY mom’s apple cake, right? WRONG. It’s exactly the same recipe.

No way! My grandmother and mother make the EXACT same apple cake, and have passed the tradition on to me. I am, incidentally, amused to report that our recipe comes not from the old world or even an old neighbor, but instead from a 1960s Catholic church community cookbook.

now, what partner and i suspect has happened is this: oodles of eastern european jews immigrated to the US between 1880-1925, and with them came, if not recipes for apple cake, then at least the memory thereof. distinct-by-family apple cake recipes abounded.

at some point, some genius put orange juice in their apple cake. this recipe has a lot going for it: all the measurements are nice round numbers: 1 cup oil, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs. there’s a secret ingredient (orange juice). it’s hard to overbake it. it tastes great even if you mess up the ingredients. you bake it in a bundt pan and it looks pretty nice without any kind of glazing, maybe in a little bit of a retro 50s coffeecake kinda way, but the flavor’s good enough it doesn’t need anything extra.

so yeah, this recipe outcompeted all the other sharlotkas and szarlotkas out there, and now it’s everyone’s family recipe.

the earliest written version of it that i could verify (conceivably – i don’t feel like getting my mitts on that book) is apparently some 80s church cookbook, which is, y’know, kinda funny:

The cake may have first been written down in a church cookbook from Smith Island, Maryland in 1981, alongside spectacularly non-kosher items like “crab loaf.” I suspect that the cake is “Jewish” in the same way that old recipes label anything stir-fried as “Chinese” or anything with corn as “Mexican,” except with the weird bonus that the cake actually is easy to bake in kosher households, and, I suppose, that my actually Jewish family adopted it as our own.

(eta: it’s a cookbook for and by a community, certainly, but it doesn’t seem to actually be a church cookbook. also eta: i’ve figured it out; it was printed in two cookbooks within a few years of each other, the earlier being “Favorite Recipes from Trinity Church”, 1981 Maryland. )

there’s some similar apple cake recipes pre-1980, like this 1973 Teddy’s Apple Cake, but that one’s missing the orange juice.

it’s a very, very, very good cake, by the way.


#hmmmmm #holding the eggs constant (because the number of eggs here is simply double ours)‚ our cake has: #less apple (and the apples are sliced‚ *not* chopped) #((god that cake looks wrong‚ all *pebbly*)) #more sugar on the apples (but the same in the cake) #slightly more flour #more baking powder #(butter for the oil‚ but that’s a known variation) #no salt (and no‚ we don’t normally use salted butter) #much more orange juice (4x) #(no walnuts‚ but that’s a known variation) #baked in a loaf pan‚ not a tube pan #three layers of apple‚ not two #honestly I think it’s primarily that there are only so many ways to make a cake #though it’s very possible that this recipe is in the genetic lineage somewhere #food #history #amnesia cw #embarrassment squick #Judaism #tag rambles

literallymechanical asked:


I just learned that about 10% of Aramaic incantation bowls, with the spiral text and little demons in the middle, are fake. Not modern forgeries, but contemporary scams where a mesopotamian potter would scribble something that looked vaguely like aramaic on a bowl and sell it to illiterate customers.

Imagine coming home for rosh hashanah and having to smile politely while grandma rebekkah tells you all about how she’s gotten really into incantation bowls, and then whips out the 5th century equivalent of a resin and glitter orgone crystal she bought on etsy.

(The paper is “Two Pseudo-Text Incantation Bowls from the University of Pikeville,” authored by Craig A. Evans and Scott Stripling. You can find a pdf on google.)



1) that’s amazing

2) Big Ea-Nasir energy


#(I went and read the paper and that’s one of two main hypotheses) #(the other one is that they were writing in tongues) #history #Judaism


Concept: saying grace, but instead of thanking God, you thank industrial agriculture (or the millions of people who contributed to its development and maintenance, or perhaps the first person to take each step, the first planter, the first plower, etc)



Saying thanks to Fritz Haber and caveating “This would be much more enthusiastic if you hadn’t been enthusiastically responsible for war crimes but you’ve so far still probably been a net good”



The Rationalist Seder version of the Dayenu song kinda does this:

Had we severed law from vengeance,
but not learned to bake and slice bread,
but not learned to bake and slice bread, Dayenu!
Had we learned to bake and slice bread,
but not mapped out all Earth’s surface,
but not mapped out all Earth’s surface, Lo Dayenu!
Had we mapped out all Earth’s surface,
but not crafted printing presses,
but not crafted printing presses, Dayenu!
Had we crafted printing presses,
but not named the rights of humans,
but not named the rights of humans, Lo Dayenu!



#proud citizen of the Future #food #war cw? #Judaism #music #do not malign potato





so tonight I’m at synagogue, listening to the Purim Night reading of the Book of Esther, like you do

and near the end of this chapter my brain presents me with the following:

nooooo ooooone plots like Haman
calls the shots like Haman
plans a genocide by casting lots like Haman

(It only works with the Hebrew pronunciation of Haman, which, like Gaston, is accented on the second syllable.)

By the time we get home my brain has added:

for there’s none so well-favored and kingly
yes, we all can be certain of that
he’s so rich that his pockets are jingly
and he looks really sharp in a three-cornered hat

*face in hands*

Petition to sing this every year at Purim.

I shared this with my dad, and he added:

No one’s spruce as Haman,
Nor abstruse as Haman;
No one’s half as good tying a noose as Haman!
He’ll use gallows in all of his decorating!
No one else hangs as well as Haman!


@maryellencarter, here it is, and thanks for the reminder to reblog it this year.


#Tumblr traditions #Purim #Judaism #death tw? #I still have never actually listened to the song this is parodying


i told my family about the rabbinic definition of a “wall” as “a barrier that impedes the passage of goats” and my mother was so delighted by this that weeks later she showed me a photo of a baby goat squeezing itself under a gate and was like “this is NOT a wall!” 






If the baby goat had to squeeze through, that may suffice? Impeding can mean slowing down or delaying or making more difficult, so if the gate posed enough of a challege, it may be a wall.



A wall that does not stop goats is not a kosher wall but the rabbis, IMO, define it too narrowly, as they say a wall two handsbreadths off the ground will stop a goat and admittedly I have kind of big hands but I’ve seen goats get through a smaller space than that on many occasions



My neighbor has a goat farm with a cattle grid instead of a gate on his driveway. It seems to contain them, to my surprise. Does a cattle grid count as a “barrier”, and if so, could a goat-stopping cattle grid be considered a wall?



If it doesn’t stop a goat it’s not a wall, but if it does stop a goat it isn’t necessarily a wall







That’s not a barrier, Diogenes






I don’t need to. My goat army does.









I fucking love tumblr


#anything that makes me laugh this much deserves a reblog #fun with loopholes #Judaism #goats #guns #death tw

{{previous post in sequence}}



Rustingbridges Icon

@rustingbridges replied to your photo “The secret to good matzah is to tell the “egg matzah is ~only for…”

I know what a yarmulke is but I didn’t know kippah

although, to be entirely fair, I could not have spelled yarmulke

I had the advantage of encountering it for the first time in a written context (a joke-compilation newsletter).


#reply via reblog #Judaism #clothing #language


ahh yes, the only thing this apocalypse was missing..


The hellcracker



excuse you these are pure comfort



i had them exactly once, loved them, then used them as school lunch for 6 months, got tired for a few, and then used them again for a year



hmm I wonder if there are regional patterns in how matzah is spelled. I didn’t know matzo was a valid spelling. possibly this is because I only interact with matza in verbal conversation. tbh none of those spellings feel right



I think it’s Hebrew vs. Yiddish (same with Shabbat vs. Shabbos), but I haven’t actually checked that. Also: Matza is great – matza coffee, matza brie, the leftovers make great breakfast!



hmm I would expect to have been exposed to the yiddish version, since all the jews I knew were germanic and had jokes about older relatives making yiddish expressions, so I might have just not been paying attention closely enough to pick up the difference. alternately the kids I knew didn’t learn much yiddish outside of the oy vey tier, and did have to go to hebrew school.

The secret to good matzah is to tell the “egg matzah is ~only for invalids~” rabbis to go fuck themselves. Egg matzah is pretty good.

(And yeah, we use surprisingly little Yiddish (and correspondingly more Hebrew) in my family. I remember having a joke fly over my head as a pre-teen because I didn’t know what a yarmulke was: we always called them kippot. (singular kippah)

And all those times on Wikipedia where I was reading about genetic disorders and Ashkenazim were more prone to damn near everything, and I was just kind of like “huh, sucks to be them”, and then when I was about seventeen I found out *I* was Ashkenazic.

(Only half-Ashkenazic, though, so I guess that dilutes the inbreeding. And most of the really terrible ones are things I would have noticed by now.))


#*knocks on wood* #reply via reblog #Judaism #Passover #food #language #illness mention

{{next post in sequence}}


god, EVERY YEAR one of the local churches puts up a big sign that says “HE IS RISEN”, and EVERY YEAR whenever I see it I just think “OH HE IS, IS HE??? WELL IF HE IS RISEN THEN HE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED AT MY SEDER, LEAVENED MESSIAHS ARE NOT KOSHER FOR PASSOVER!!!”

I also post about this on my blog every year but

that’s okay






#Tumblr traditions #this post was queued to ensure proper timing #Judaism #Christianity #Easter #Passover